TGF-? signaling is an effective target to impair survival and induce apoptosis of human cholangiocarcinoma cells: A study on human primary cell cultures.
ABSTRACT: Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) and its subtypes (mucin- and mixed-CCA) arise from the neoplastic transformation of cholangiocytes, the epithelial cells lining the biliary tree. CCA has a high mortality rate owing to its aggressiveness, late diagnosis and high resistance to radiotherapy and chemotherapeutics. We have demonstrated that CCA is enriched for cancer stem cells which express epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) traits, with these features being associated with aggressiveness and drug resistance. TGF-? signaling is upregulated in CCA and involved in EMT. We have recently established primary cell cultures from human mucin- and mixed-intrahepatic CCA. In human CCA primary cultures with different levels of EMT trait expression, we evaluated the anticancer effects of: (i) CX-4945, a casein kinase-2 (CK2) inhibitor that blocks TGF-?1-induced EMT; and (ii) LY2157299, a TGF-? receptor I kinase inhibitor. We tested primary cell lines expressing EMT trait markers (vimentin, N-cadherin and nuclear catenin) but negative for epithelial markers, and cell lines expressing epithelial markers (CK19-positive) in association with EMT traits. Cell viability was evaluated by MTS assays, apoptosis by Annexin V FITC and cell migration by wound-healing assay.at a dose of 10 ?M, CX4945 significantly decreased cell viability of primary human cell cultures from both mucin and mixed CCA, whereas in CK19-positive cell cultures, the effect of CX4945 on cell viability required higher concentrations (>30?M). At the same concentrations, CX4945 also induced apoptosis (3- fold increase vs controls) which correlated with the expression level of CK2 in the different CCA cell lines (mucin- and mixed-CCA). Indeed, no apoptotic effects were observed in CK19-positive cells expressing lower CK2 levels. The effects of CX4945 on viability and apoptosis were associated with an increased number of ?-H2ax (biomarker for DNA double-strand breaks) foci, suggesting the active role of CK2 as a repair mechanism in CCAs. LY2157299 failed to influence cell proliferation or apoptosis but significantly inhibited cell migration. At a 50 ?M concentration, in fact, LY2157299 significantly impaired (at 24, 48 and 120 hrs) the wound-healing of primary cell cultures from both mucin-and mixed-CCA. In conclusion, we demonstrated that CX4945 and LY2157299 exert relevant but distinct anticancer effects against human CCA cells, with CX4945 acting on cell viability and apoptosis, and LY2157299 impairing cell migration. These results suggest that targeting the TGF-? signaling with a combination of CX-4945 and LY2157299 could have potential benefits in the treatment of human CCA.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Most gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST) are driven by activating oncogenic mutations of KIT/PDGFRA, which provide a compelling therapeutic target. Our previous studies showed that CDC37, regulated by casein kinase 2 (CK2), is a crucial HSP90 cofactor for KIT oncogenic function and a promising and more selective therapeutic target in GIST. METHODS:Biologic mechanisms of CK2-mediated CDC37 regulation were assessed in GISTs by immunoblotting, immunoprecipitations, knockdown and inactivation assays. The effects of a combination of KIT and CK2 inhibition were assessed by immunoblotting, cell viability, colony growth, cell cycle analysis, apoptosis, migration and invasiveness. RESULTS:CK2 overexpression was demonstrated by immunoblotting in GIST cell lines and patient biopsies. Treatment with a specific CK2 inhibitor, CX4945, leads to CDC37 dephosphorylation and inhibits KIT signalling in imatinib-sensitive and in imatinib-resistant GIST cell lines. Immunoprecipitation demonstrated that CK2 inhibition blocks KIT:HSP90:CDC37 interaction in GIST cells. Coordinated inhibition of CK2 and KIT by CX4945 (or CK2 shRNA) and imatinib, respectively, leads to increased apoptosis, anti-proliferative effects and cell cycle arrest and decreased p-AKT and p-S6 expression, migration and invasiveness in all GIST cell lines compared with either intervention alone, indicating additive effects of inhibiting these two important regulators of GIST biology. CONCLUSION:Our findings suggest that combinatorial inhibition of CK2 and KIT warrants evaluation as a novel therapeutic strategy in GIST, especially in imatinib-resistant GIST.
Project description:G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) regulate virtually all physiological functions including the release of insulin from pancreatic ?-cells. ?-Cell M3 muscarinic receptors (M3Rs) are known to play an essential role in facilitating insulin release and maintaining proper whole-body glucose homeostasis. As is the case with other GPCRs, M3R activity is regulated by phosphorylation by various kinases, including GPCR kinases and casein kinase 2 (CK2). At present, it remains unknown which of these various kinases are physiologically relevant for the regulation of ?-cell activity. In the present study, we demonstrate that inhibition of CK2 in pancreatic ?-cells, knockdown of CK2? expression, or genetic deletion of CK2? in ?-cells of mutant mice selectively augmented M3R-stimulated insulin release in vitro and in vivo. In vitro studies showed that this effect was associated with an M3R-mediated increase in intracellular calcium levels. Treatment of mouse pancreatic islets with CX4945, a highly selective CK2 inhibitor, greatly reduced agonist-induced phosphorylation of ?-cell M3Rs, indicative of CK2-mediated M3R phosphorylation. We also showed that inhibition of CK2 greatly enhanced M3R-stimulated insulin secretion in human islets. Finally, CX4945 treatment protected mice against diet-induced hyperglycemia and glucose intolerance in an M3R-dependent fashion. Our data demonstrate, for the first time to our knowledge, the physiological relevance of CK2 phosphorylation of a GPCR and suggest the novel concept that kinases acting on ?-cell GPCRs may represent novel therapeutic targets.
Project description:Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a particularly aggressive hepatobiliary malignancy, for which the molecular mechanisms underlying the malignant phenotype are still poorly understood, and novel and effective therapeutic strategies are limited. The pro-survival protein kinase CK2 is frequently overexpressed in cancer and is receiving increasing interest as an anti-tumor drug target. Its precise role in CCA biology is still largely unknown. Here we show that expression of the CK2? and ?' catalytic subunits and of the ? regulatory subunit is increased in human CCA samples. Increased expression of CK2 subunits was shown in CCA cell lines compared to non-transformed cholangiocytes. We used chemical inhibition of CK2 and genetic modification by CRISPR/Cas9 to explore the contribution of CK2 to the malignant phenotype of CCA cells. Disruption of CK2 activity results in cell death through apoptosis, reduced invasion and migration potential, and G0/G1 cell cycle arrest. Importantly, CCA cells with a reduced CK2 activity are more sensitive to chemotherapy. Altogether, our results demonstrate that CK2 significantly contributes to increased proliferative potential and augmented growth of CCA cells and indicate the rationale for its targeting as a promising pharmacologic strategy for cholangiocarcinoma.
Project description:Growth arrest and DNA damage-inducible-β (Gadd45β) is a stress-response protein involved in a number of processes, including cell cycle control, DNA repair, survival and death control, and stress signaling, depending on its interactions. Gadd45β expression is dysregulated in numerous types of cancer, functioning as either a tumor promoter or a tumor suppressor. However, the functions of Gadd45β in cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), particularly in metastasis, has not been studied. The immunohistochemical analysis of Gadd45β expression revealed that 75% of histological specimens from patients with CCA expressed high levels of Gadd45β, and that high Gadd45β expression was associated with metastasis. The role of Gadd45β in CCA was examined using siRNA-mediated gene knockdown in HuCCA-1, a human CCA cell line established from a Thai patient. The effects of Gadd45β downregulation upon cell viability and death, invasion, migration, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) marker expression were investigated. Gadd45β knockdown impaired cell viability, which was associated with the induction of apoptosis. In addition, there was a marked reduction in invasion and migration, although MMP activity was unaffected. Impairment of these metastatic properties was accompanied by the decreased expression of EMT markers, including Slug, vimentin, claudin-1 and zona occludens protein 1, whereas E-cadherin expression was increased. The present study suggests that Gadd45β is involved in regulating the viability and the metastatic potential of CCA cells, which may be mediated by the modulation of the EMT pathway.
Project description:The development of selective inhibitors of protein kinases is challenging because of the significant conservation of the ATP binding site. Here, we describe a new mechanism by which the protein kinase CK2? can be selectively inhibited using features outside the ATP site. We have identified a new binding site for small molecules on CK2? adjacent to the ATP site and behind the ?D loop, termed the ?D pocket. An elaborated fragment anchored in this site has been linked with a low affinity fragment binding in the ATP site, creating a novel and selective inhibitor (CAM4066) that binds CK2? with a Kd of 320 nM and shows significantly improved selectivity compared to other CK2? inhibitors. CAM4066 shows target engagement in several cell lines and similar potency to clinical trial candidate CX4945. Our data demonstrate that targeting a poorly conserved, cryptic pocket allows inhibition of CK2? via a novel mechanism, enabling the development of a new generation of selective CK2? inhibitors.
Project description:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of liver cancer and has limited treatment options. Snail family transcriptional repressor 1 (SNAI1) is a master regulator of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and has been implicated in HCC initiation and progression. However, the precise role of SNAI1 and the way it contributes to hepatocarcinogenesis have not been investigated in depth, especially in vivo. Here, we analyzed the functional relevance of SNAI1 in promoting hepatocarcinogenesis in the context of the AKT/c-Met-driven mouse liver tumor model (AKT/c-Met/SNAI1). Overexpression of SNAI1 did not accelerate AKT/c-Met-induced HCC development or induce metastasis in mice. Elevated SNAI1 expression rather led to the formation of cholangiocellular (CCA) lesions in the mouse liver, a phenotype that was paralleled by increased activation of Yap and Notch. Ablation of Yap strongly inhibited AKT/c-Met/SNAI-induced HCC and CCA development, whereas inhibition of the Notch pathway specifically blocked the CCA-like phenotype in mice. Intriguingly, overexpression of SNAI1 failed to induce EMT, indicated by strong E-cadherin expression and lack of vimentin expression by AKT/c-Met/SNAI tumor cells. SNAI1 mRNA levels strongly correlated with the expression of CCA markers, including SOX9, CK19, and EPCAM, but not with EMT markers such as E-CADHERIN and ZO-1, in human HCC samples. Overall, our findings suggest SNAI1 regulates the CCA-like phenotype in hepatocarcinogenesis via regulation of Yap and Notch. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings report a new function of SNAI1 to promote cholangiocellular transdifferentiation instead of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Project description:Inhibition of human papillomavirus (HPV) replication is a promising therapeutic approach for intervening with HPV-related pathologies. Primary targets for interference are two viral proteins, E1 and E2, which are required for HPV replication. Both E1 and E2 are phosphoproteins; thus, the protein kinases that phosphorylate them might represent secondary targets to achieve inhibition of HPV replication. In the present study, we show that CX4945, an ATP-competitive small molecule inhibitor of casein kinase 2 (CK2) catalytic activity, suppresses replication of different HPV types, including novel HPV5NLuc, HPV11NLuc and HPV18NLuc marker genomes, but enhances the replication of HPV16 and HPV31. We further corroborate our findings using short interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated knockdown of CK2 ? and ?' subunits in U2OS and CIN612 cells; we show that while both subunits are expressed in these cell lines, CK2? is required for HPV replication, but CK2?' is not. Furthermore, we demonstrate that CK2? acts in a kinase activity-dependent manner and regulates the stability and nuclear retention of endogenous E1 proteins of HPV11 and HPV18. This unique feature of CK2? makes it an attractive target for developing antiviral agents.
Project description:Cholangiocarcinomas (CCAs) comprise a mucin-secreting form, intrahepatic or perihilar, and a mixed form located peripherally. We characterized cancer stem cells (CSCs) in CCA subtypes and evaluated their cancerogenic potential. CSC markers were investigated in 25 human CCAs in primary cultures and established cell lines. Tumorigenic potential was evaluated in vitro or in xenografted mice after s.c. or intrahepatic injection in normal and cirrhotic (carbon tetrachloride-induced) mice. CSCs comprised more than 30% of the tumor mass. Although the CSC profile was similar between mucin-intrahepatic and mucin-perihilar subtypes, CD13(+) CSCs characterized mixed-intrahepatic, whereas LGR5(+) characterized mucin-CCA subtypes. Many neoplastic cells expressed epithelial-mesenchymal transition markers and coexpressed mesenchymal and epithelial markers. In primary cultures, epithelial-mesenchymal transition markers, mesenchymal markers (vimentin, CD90), and CD13 largely predominated over epithelial markers (CD133, EpCAM, and LGR5). In vitro, CSCs expressing epithelial markers formed a higher number of spheroids than CD13(+) or CD90(+) CSCs. In s.c. tumor xenografts, tumors dominated by stromal markers were formed primarily by CD90(+) and CD13(+) cells. By contrast, in intrahepatic xenografts in cirrhotic livers, tumors were dominated by epithelial traits reproducing the original human CCAs. In conclusion, CSCs were rich in human CCAs, implicating CCAs as stem cell-based diseases. CSC subpopulations generate different types of cancers depending on the microenvironment. Remarkably, CSCs reproduce the original human CCAs when injected into cirrhotic livers.